29 September 2006


Today was the second time I took my son and his cousin to Chinatown by subway for music lesson. They were scheduled to be there at 4pm so we had to ride the train with high school kids just dismissed from school for the day. I made the mistake of riding the last car on the train and what eyesores I came across! The first eyesore was some white boy resting his feet on the pole in front of him. My two kids grabbed the pole and their little hands were right at his feet's level, but he didn't move an inch. Nearby, two black girls each took up two seats, stretching their legs or curling up their knees and wrapping their hands around the kneecaps. Then of course there were other kids horseplay loudly at the very end of the car. They would run back and forth along the length of the car, too. My two kids probably don't get exposed to such shameful public behavior and kept staring at those "kids". I had to tell in Chinese not to look at them. In the center of the train there was a white man in sunglasses wearing a jacket that appeared to show an NYPD badge. I was not sure if he was from the police department allocated to keep an eye on these "kids", or just some security guard on his way home. All the time I was worried that one "kid" would come over to harass us or worse. What would I do? There's no way I could fight them off, but then there's no telling how far they would go. In my mind, these so-called kids were probably troublemakers in school, who went to school just to pick up "kids" from the other sex, or to sell drugs, and carry no notebooks or other items related to school. They would do anything for a laugh or just because some other idiot dared them to. With their youthful strength, strength in number, and lack of a balanced mind to think of the future, they don't need weapons to inflict bodily damages. One name kept surfacing in my mind - Bernhard Goetz. In 1984, Goetz, a white man, became known as the Subway Vigilante after he shot four black young men who were going to rob him. Initially, the young men claimed they were merely panhandling. Well, if they really were panhandling by surrounding a lone white man, then what they got was the price for being stupid. It's worthwhile to note that the only young man who didn't commit other crimes after the Bernie incident was the one that was paralyzed during the incident.

I once was in the same subway car with a bunch of black men and one unlucky Indian man. I cannot recall the date, but I think it was in the 1990s. I was riding the N or R train and I first knew of the incident when at the 49th Street Station the black men got off the train and there was an Indian man with content from his pants scattered all over the bench. Only then I realized minutes earlier the black men were gathered at the same spot. They probably surrounded him with whatever excuse, made him empty out his pockets, and took from him whatever they deemed valuable. It was probably 9 or 10 at night and that particular subway car didn't have that many people. There would be at most five passengers plus the group of muggers. I recall exchanging glances with the Indian man after the incident and expressing my surprise that it al happened so quickly. I don't really know if I would do anything differently if I knew about the mugging. I could have been the victim. One thing that made me remember the incident was that at the next stop, 57th Street, the mugging victim pulled the emergency brake to get the conductor's attention. Of course that meant the train was held in the station for an additional amount of time.

Next week I'll have to ride in the first car of the train. It is not good to be mugged and it's not any better if, and it's a very big IF, the muggers get hurt in the incident. Better to steer clear of the potential troubles...

No comments:

Post a Comment